When riding a horse who is energetic, nervous, or anxious, there are some things that you should make sure not to do when riding a horse in this situation. I found seven different things that I believe you should not do when riding a fresh horse.
1. Don’t Pull On Their Head
As you may know, pulling back on the reins is something done to encourage the horse to stop. If you are riding a fresh horse, you might notice that they are trying to go faster, get more rein, or start acting out. It can be almost instinct to pull the horse back to slow them and stop them, but in many cases this just seems to make the horse frustrated and act out more.
I myself am guilty of trying to pull back on a horse to try to slow them down. Instead of doing this, letting them burn off their energy a bit and remaining relaxed in the saddle can really help. Try lunging your horse before your ride to reduce the amount of pulling and speeding up the horse does, or just work on relaxing in your saddle and riding your horse’s ‘spiciness’ out.
2. Don’t Just Ride In Endless Circles
Riding in endless circles around an arena can cause one of two things:
- Your horse gets bored and irritated
- Your horse stops paying attention to you and starts anticipating your commands
Neither of these are things that you necessarily want to deal with, so because of this, I recommend switching up what you do in the arena. Some things that you can practice doing could include:
- Figure eights
- Riding over, around, and in-between ground poles
- Different obstacle courses
Doing this will reduce the acting up that your horse might do and instead get them to focus on the task that you are directing them to do.
3. Don’t Tense Up When Riding
I can honestly say that this is something I need to work on when the horse I am riding starts to get antsy, nervous, or is already fresh. Horses, almost like a sixth sense, can pick up their rider’s emotions, nerves, and feelings so if you are tense or nervous, the horse will act up even more than before.
To relax, don’t forget to breathe. Often, taking a deep breath will naturally relax your whole body which then shows the horse that it is okay for them to relax too.
Not only should you take deep breaths, but also sit deep down into your seat and try to sit your gaits. This will help keep your horse going at a more manageable pace because you are relaxing in the saddle. Keeping a relaxed leg also seems to really calm a horse down. Recusing your tension and relaxing will really help.
4. Never Stopping
Never stopping your horse is a big mistake that many people make. Some horses might act fresh because they are just impatient and restless. Because of this, stopping and just standing until your horse relaxes can be one of the best things you can do on a horse that is fresh from impatience.
To do this, just ride your horse through a few motions before stopping and standing until your horse is relaxed. Sometimes just standing will help calm your horse down and better their patience.
5. Limiting Contact
Just because you are trying to relax does NOT mean that you should just stop the contact between you and the horse. Keeping light contact on your horse to still direct them can help so you are sending the message to be calm and relax while also still in control of your mount.
6. Don’t Try To Rein It In
Like what I was saying about hanging on the horse’s head, the same rules apply to not reining your horse in too much. Sometimes just jumping right into the ride is better than trying to keep the horse held back and restricted. Try just starting your ride and jumping right into patterns and other flatwork to keep your horse focused.
7. Don’t Jump Into Your Ride Without A Plan
This can apply to almost anything. Jumping into a ride without an idea of what you want to do is like jumping into your car without an idea of where you want to go. It isn’t really productive and it can lead to a disorganized ride.
Come up with a general idea of how you want your ride to go and what you want to accomplish in that ride. This will help to not only keep your ride more organized, but it will also help you to improve gradually with each ride and improve your confidence.